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"pale Horse, Pale Rider" Case

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Reading the three different novels "Old Mortality", "Noon Wine" and "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" you will learn that despite the different plots in the novels there is a common thread. The protagonists in all three novels has been challenged or locked in some way by the society but finally breaks free and live a better life the way they want to. The strong individual beats the society and its challenges.


The first novel "Old Mortality" is divided in three parts. In the first part we hear about two girls Maria and Miranda learning about their dead aunt Amy through letters, poems and stories told by their grandmother. Amy was raised to be a proper woman in a society where women had few rights.

In the second part Maria and Miranda are staying at a convent, where they are raised to become real ladies. Their knowledge and information is filtered, so they cannot see the world with their own eyes. They do not get out of the convent very often, only when they have behaved well and their father comes to take them out for a day.

In the third part we only hear about Miranda. We learn that she has escaped from the convent and is now married. She is going to her Uncle Gabriel's funeral, Amy's husband. On the way she meets her cousin Eva who fights for women's rights and the right for women to vote. After the funeral we learn that Miranda no longer wants to be a part of the family. She has finally escaped.

The second novel "Noon Wine" is about a family living on a farm; a man, woman and their two sons. Their economy is bad, the machinery is broken and the woman in the house, Miss Thompson is ill. One day a man walks by the farm and asks for a job. His name is Mr. Helton and he is determined to work hard for a low wage. Mr. Thompson the man on the farm hires him and lets him stay in a shack. Mr. Helton manages to increase the production on the farm and reduce the waste. Mr. Helton saves the farm and keeps it running for nine years. Then a man, called Mr. Hatch, turns up at the farm claiming that Mr. Helton is a lunatic who killed his own brother over a harmonica. Mr. Hatch wants to take Mr. Helton with him back to North Dakota where he escaped from a lunatic asylum.

Mr. Thompson and Mr. Hatch end up arguing and Mr. Thompson kills him. Mr. Helton runs away but is caught and later dies of injuries he suffered during his capture. Mr. Thompson claims it was self-defense, but nobody believes his story, neither the neighbors nor his family. In the end he shoots himself to prove he is innocent.

The third novel "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" is about Miranda, a pacifist working as a theatre critic during World War 1 and the influenza epidemic in 1918. Through the novel we hear about several dreams and nightmares she is having about death and running away from everything. Miranda has a hard time dealing with the war and the things going on. She is in a relationship with Adam who she takes to the shows she is reviewing.

Miranda gets sick because of the influenza epidemic and is hospitalized. She is very delirious and the doctors have given up on her. However, she manages to get well and rise again, only to find her true love Adam has died of the disease, which he likely caught while tending to her. Miranda gets over the loss and lives on with her life, now that the war has also ended.


Reading the three summaries you will learn that on the surface there are no similarities. The novels all have a different plot and they all take place in different places but in a limited time period. "Old Mortality" takes place in three different time periods; 1885-1902, 1904 and 1912. In the first time period the setting takes place in Texas. In the second, 1904, the setting takes place in New Orleans. In the third, 1912, the setting takes place in Texas again.

"Noon Wine" takes place on a small dairy farm in South Texas in 1896-1905.

"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" takes place in Denver, Colorado during the influenza epidemic and World War 1 in 1918.

In the limited time period the roles and norms of the society has not changed very much.

This leads us to look at the protagonist. In all three novels the character has had some personal development.

Character motivation

In the first novel Miranda's growth as person is an example of human development. In the beginning of the story she is told a lot of stories and poems, about the past and about the lives of the elder generation, by her father and the rest of the family. The stories are romantic and poetic and glorify the past. However Miranda cannot connect the romantic stories to the old paintings and objects from the past generation.

She is put in a convent by her father so she can be raised to be a proper woman. Her own opinion is irrelevant and the information and knowledge she gathers is filtered so she cannot see the world with her own eyes, but only see what her father wants her to see. She starts to doubt her family's history and contradict everyone's view. This is reflected when we hear about her planning a "forbidden" career as a jockey. The family's opinion about this type of career is reflected when Miranda's father says she ought to be ashamed of herself, when she tries to practice a Jockey's riding style. Instead her father believes that she belongs in the house along with all other women. After discovering this opinion Miranda knows that she has to do everything by herself and for herself. She starts to reject her own background



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